Category Archives: PR & Communications

Told you so…

So there we have it – an answer to my previous post, what was wrong with the press office is that it’s head honcho was resigning… It’s been covered endlessly elsewhere, and to be honest the whole phone-tap marlarky isn’t a topic that I’m all that interested in, so I’m not going to give it any more air here other than to say that the ex-hack in me can’t help but chuckle when the likes of John Prescott, himself of a profession steeped in corruption, lies and thievery, can even begin to keep a straight face saying he thought that hacks might have had ‘higher standards’.

Higher standards? He’s lucky most hacks have any standards at all these days!

Conservative Press Machine in Crisis?

It’s not been a good week for the Conservatives in the press: they’re being slammed over interest rates, job cuts, still-rioting students, and now Baroness Warsi has put her foot in it with a speech which for the most part I think we can agree with, that there is a level of casual discrimination in the UK where all of those who follow Islam as a faith are either moderate and quiet, or extremists with suicide vests.

It could have been dealt with as a quiet matter, a general rebuttal that the PM/ Cabinet/Government agree broadly that all forms of discrimination should be tackled openly – but no. Furious ex-ministers led by the swivel-eyed-past piled into studios up and down the country, a messy operations note came out from No.10 that the speech hadn’t been ‘approved’ – possibly the worst thing that they could have said about it.

So we all looked at this, and we scratched our heads and wondered – just what the hell is going on in the Downing St. press office these days? How did they drop such a clanger in a week of on-going bad news…

This week should have been easy: Miliband is the most ineffective party leader since Iain Duncan Smith, the opposition are in disarray flip flopping, the Shadow Chancellor can’t add up, and today we find out that he’s allegedly (according to the Daily Mail) a cuckold. On top of all of that the golden goose of bad labour press is back: Blair is all over the news dragging the expensive and potentially illegal war back into the public consciousness all over again.

One can only assume that there is something bubbling under the surface about to break miserably all over the Government.

Terror Threat

The terror threat is palpable in central london at the moment: I think every day for the last week has seen at least one major road closure to examine suspicious bags or cars – the security services are certainly on edge, it’s not just London, Paris too is on high alert with regular evacuations of tourist sites, something almost unheard of in our laissez-faire republican cousin.

It’s an odd state of affairs – Be Aware! we’re told, but the question most people ask is of what? Odd looking cars, people with turbans, odd beards, shamrocks, the germans, smurfs – what? Most people on the street wouldn’t know where to start without some guidance, and so far there’s been no guidance. The result? Fear – precisely what the terrorists want, we change our lifestyles because of them, and they win.

It’s interesting to watch the various media outlets explain the terror threat, the BBC have made a huge thing out of it – it’s been the lead or top three story all week, ABC news and FOX are the same, some French outlets – most notably Canal+  are following our lead – whilst the German’s are remaining remarkably stoic, the conservative Erste network and the rather lowbrow commercially guided ZDF and ProSieben channels are treating this as an ‘and in other news’ feature. Not once has the terror threat come above story 3 – why? Because there’s very little one can actually say about it without resorting to hyperbole and conjecture, and that’s not news.

When I grew up it was exposed on an obvious Military installation at the height of the terrorist activities of the Irish Republicans. Cars were bombed, people were shot – but through all of this, guidance was always given, you knew that you have to check your car before you got in it, you knew you had to report certain people, numberplates or activities, and you knew most of all that the chances of you actually being involved were ludicrously low; but for the sake of everyone in your community you should be vigilent anyway. Some commentators have been screaming for exact facts, but that’s clearly not intelligent or practical, but if the state, both ours and abroad, want us to be more aware; they must start giving the public more useful information about what they need to be vigilant for, rather than simply scaring people about an unknown, unsized, unpredictable threat.

Danny Alexander T-Minus 2 days to resignation?

Well, perhaps the headline is overplaying it a little, but it seems that the Daily Telegraph is now getting it’s teeth into Danny Alexander over avoiding capital gains tax – whether it’s legal or illegal will be the big question – Telegraph attempt to skewer Danny...whether an answer is needed before they decide he should be hung drawn and quartered is another thing.

The Telegraph is now full out gunning for the coalition, my spies tell me that they’re being briefed by Labour yes, but that to be be expected, more worryingly is the rumour that one or two Lib Dem staffers are briefing hacks that are way above their pay-grade. I’m not sure whether to believe this or not, I certainly wasn’t expecting a barage of messages surrouding David Laws yesterday though – so who can say who’s side they’re playing on.

What is true is that The Telegraph can no longer hide behind the veil of ‘the public interest’ in their theft of expenses data – if it is in the public interest, let’s have full disclosure; all out, right now… all parties all the data, otherwise it’s going to be a drip drip drip that does nothing but increase the circulation of The Telegraph (benefiting from the proceeds of Stolen goods one could possibly argue). It’s hard to see how the coalition can function effectively if one side of it is being taken apart one person at a time; it’s even harder to see how Nick Clegg’s reputation will recover after his protestations that his was a party of new politics, whiter than white.

Communications Control

Dear lord, the past few days have been interesting: the Liberal Democrats are really showing how far in opposition they really are – they’ve got so little control of their communications it’s hard not to feel sorry for them – they’re a mess. No clear line, briefing against each other secretly (but in a horribly obvious way) and just generally having the communications strategy of a bunch of rabid puppies.

They desperately need to get a grip: for the first time in their history they’re in power – and it’s all about to go awfully wrong if they don’t stop a few movers from acting like they’re running a university debating society, it’s shabby and unbecoming of a party in power.

This goes for the Conservatives as well – better press handling will result in slicker relations with the media; not spin, but at least making sure people are saying the same things at the same time: what will kill the coalition dead is the press, if they scent descent or a mixed message it’ll be leaped on every single time. I’m amazed with all of the support they have from really influential lobbyists, communications specialists, old-style PRs and digital and social media people that it’s still such a mess.

Some have blamed it on the state of the economy, the mess they’re having to sort out – the rush of the coalition talks, but they’re all just making excuses. A good communications plan and superb people to carry it out will work whatever the situation, so please. Stop making excuses and start exercising some communications discipline.

The truth about ad-sales.

Came across this the other day, it’s cringe-worthy, but so true… I have (shamefully) sat in meetings like this with lots of people bigging up their ego’s whilst trying to sell the client bollocks. The little thing about zig and zagging… I wonder who that could be aimed at… answers on a postcard please.